In continuing its commitment to helping the public access technological support services, Waterford Libraries recently acquired 32 repurposed iPads from Waterford City and County Council, helped by funding from Creative Ireland.
The tablets, which were originally used by Waterford councillors, will be available for those who would like to learn more about using technology through classes and one to one help which is being organised in the libraries to help people to become and stay more connected in a virtual world.
Jane Cantwell, Waterford City & County Librarian explained, “During Covid, the libraries worked with individuals to support them in accessing services using their phones, tablets and laptops. This was life changing for those who were supported as it gave them access to a range of services and events online. In what was fast becoming a virtual world, we were inundated with requests from the public to help them in accessing Library services such as e-books and online classes and other services which improved their quality of life at a time when there was so little available.”
“In addition, our staff upskilled so they were in a position to provide support and training to older people, who wanted to stay connected with their family and friends remotely. Our Age
Friendly Coordinators prepared training guides and rolled out training to library staff and others, including the HSE Digital champions and Social Prescribers on how to support people in accessing the Libraries’ Borrow Box services and other important services such as email, Zoom and WhatsApp.”
Following a successful funding submission to Creative Ireland in Waterford earlier this year, Waterford Libraries has now used the funding to cover the cost of the tablets to support and continue this work across the 12 branches in the City and County.
Jane added, “We will now have the devices available on site and this will allow us to facilitate real time training both on a one-to-one basis or in groups where people will be offered the opportunity to use the devices to become more comfortable navigating digital platforms.”
The recently launched National Literacy Strategy identifies 47% of the population as being without basic digital literacy skills, so the provision of digital training, support and resources through Waterford Libraries goes some way towards helping to mitigate this gap.
Kieran Kehoe, Waterford City and County Council Director of Services for Corporate said, “It’s great to see the hardware getting a new lease of life. The councillors recently received new laptops to replace the touch screen tablets, which were purchased in May 2019.”
“Primarily the need for new computers to replace the iPads was necessitated by the reliance Councillors had on them to engage and communicate with the Local Authority and their constituents remotely. The laptops provide a much more robust level of security features to protect against cyber attacks and ensure compliance with GDPR and insurance requirements.”